The Fire Is Not Quenched: Annihilation and Mark 9:48 (Part 2)

A few months ago we took a look at Mark 9:48, in which Jesus quotes Isaiah 66:24 and refers to gehenna as the place where “their worm does not die.” Critics of conditionalism often misquote or misunderstand the idiom as depicting a consuming maggot that eternally feeds upon but never fully consumes its host, and I had explained that quite the opposite is true. Similar to the scavengers of Deuteronomy 28:26 and Jeremiah 7:33 which will not be frightened away and prevented from fully consuming carrion, the worm “will not be prevented by death from fully consuming dead [bodies] … their shame is made permanent and everlasting by being fully consumed.”1Date, C. (2012, July 17). “Their worm does not die: Annihilation and Mark 9:48.” Rethinking Hell [blog]. Retrieved 16 July 2012. http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/07/their-worm-does-not-die-annihilation-and-mark-948/
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1. Date, C. (2012, July 17). “Their worm does not die: Annihilation and Mark 9:48.” Rethinking Hell [blog]. Retrieved 16 July 2012. http://www.rethinkinghell.com/2012/07/their-worm-does-not-die-annihilation-and-mark-948/

The Bible doesn't teach universalism: A response to Jason Pratt

A bit of context

As mentioned by Chris Date in his response to T. Kurt Jaros, Nick Ahern’s blog Split Frame of Reference recently hosted three essays, each representing one of the three main views of final punishment in Christian theology: the traditionalist, universalist, and annihilationist views of hell. This post is my response to the essay “Three views on hell: Universalism” by Jason Pratt of The Evangelical Universalist.
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Whatever death means, it supports conditionalism

One of the central descriptions of the fate of the unsaved in the Bible is death, contrasted with life for the saved. We see this for example in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” James 5:20 speaks of saving a sinner’s soul from death. Death there is not only the general fate of the lost but of their souls; that is, the very soul of the lost will die! John warns three times in Revelation of the “second death” (2:11; 20:14; 21:8). Many passages that don’t mention death per se nonetheless make the point by emphasizing the fate of the saved in contrast to the wicked—which is life.1For example, Matthew 7:14, John 3:16; Galatians 6:8. Whatever is meant by death—and its opposite, life—it must have been pretty important to get across. So what does the Bible mean when it talks about the ultimate fate of the unsaved being death?2Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture comes from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV). Copyright 2000 by Crossway Bibles. Continue reading “Whatever death means, it supports conditionalism”

1. For example, Matthew 7:14, John 3:16; Galatians 6:8.
2. Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture comes from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV). Copyright 2000 by Crossway Bibles.

Deprived of continuance: Irenaeus the conditionalist

Arnobius of Sicca
Critics of conditionalism often credit fourth-century apologist Arnobius of Sicca with being the first clear proponent of conditionalism. From Robert Peterson to John Blanchard to Robert Morey, there is an abundant tendency among traditionalists to indicate Arnobius as “the first name usually associated with” annihilationism and conditional immortality,1Blanchard, J. Whatever Happened to Hell? (Crossway, 1995). 211. who gave “the first clear expression of annihilationism,”2Peterson, R. Hell On Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1995). 104. that annihilationism “was first advanced by Arnobius, a 4th-century ‘Christian’ apologist, according to standard reference works such as Baker’s Dictionary of Theology.”3Morey, R. Death and the Afterlife (Bethany House, 1984). 199. Each of these authors is critical of Arnobius and his work; Morey is even hesitant to identify Arnobius as Christian, enclosing the term in scare quotes. The impression these authors apparently intend to leave their readers with is that conditionalism emerged hundreds of years after the writing of the New Testament, first espoused by a “less-than-careful thinker”4Peterson. Hell On Trial. 103. whose very faith is of questionable legitimacy. Continue reading “Deprived of continuance: Irenaeus the conditionalist”

1. Blanchard, J. Whatever Happened to Hell? (Crossway, 1995). 211.
2. Peterson, R. Hell On Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment (Presbyterian & Reformed, 1995). 104.
3. Morey, R. Death and the Afterlife (Bethany House, 1984). 199.
4. Peterson. Hell On Trial. 103.